In this 'Pioneers' section, you can find out more about some of the people and institutions who are working hard to break down the barriers facing talented disabled people who wish to access further and higher education in the performing arts.
We know from our experience of talking to parents and carers of participants in Diverse City's Remix Gold group how challenging it can be to find accessible training opportunities in higher education (HE) institutions. Without these opportunities, it can be very difficult to progress in the performing arts, no matter how talented you are.
Emma McFarland, Diverse Futures' Research & Mapping Lead, was pleased to find and interview some 'gems'. These are people and organisations who are passionately committed to opening up training in the performing arts in mainstream HE institutions to talented disabled students.
We hope these interviews inspire, provoke debate and promote understanding. Most of all, we hope they nurture new creative responses from individuals, organisations and institutions to the challenge of opening up further and higher education to young people who are disabled.
We know this is just a start and there are other Pioneers out there. If you know someone who is working to extend access to the performing arts in higher or further education, please let us know by emailing Alice Chutter firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam is Lecturer in Theatre & Performance at Plymouth University where he is at the forefront of work to increase access to the Dance Theatre degree course for disabled people. He was joint founder and Artistic Director of Candoco Dance Company and throughout his career has been passionately committed to increasing opportunities for people who are disabled in the performing arts.
Gerry is Artistic Director of Solar Bear, a theatre company based in Glasgow which creates exciting, innovative theatre with a strong social commitment and which pioneered theatre work with deaf young people in its deaf youth theatre programme. Solar Bear is working in partnership with Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to launch the first theatre degree course specifically for deaf actors in 2015.
Kevin graduated from the BA Dance Theatre degree course at Plymouth University in 2013. He has Cerebral Palsy and is ‘severely disabled’. In his words, he ‘lives life to the max’ working as an artist and life model, standing for election as an MEP and travelling all over the world independently. He is a strong advocate for the opportunities on the Dance Theatre degree at Plymouth University for disabled people.
Liselle Terret is Lecturer in Applied Theatre at Coventry University. Previously she was a lecturer at Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London and was instrumental in setting up the Performance Making Diploma there for students with learning disabilities in partnership with Access All Areas. She has spent much of her career working to extend opportunities for disabled people in the performing arts.
Nick Llewellyn is Artistic Director of Access All Areas, a theatre company for people with learning disabilities based in Hackney, London. Projects include touring professional productions with their performance company, community arts programmes and a professional actors agency for learning disabled actors. Access All Areas launched the new Performance Making Diploma for students with learning disabilities in partnership with Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in 2014.
Richard is Director of Open Theatre Company, an organisation which aims to place the creativity of young people with learning disabilities at the centre of the cultural life of Birmingham and Coventry. He has been working in the field of theatre and learning disability for over 30 years and is a passionate advocate for the talents and abilities of young people with learning disabilities.